Years ago a flatmate and I took a break from our studies at the University of Glasgow and hopped the train for Edinburgh. We weren't going for any particular reason, just to wander and explore.
We ended up down a steep and cobbled street, and right into an antiques shop, of which I can, regrettably, no longer remember the name. We clearly weren't shoppers but I'd got to chatting with the owner about my interest in antiques, and she seemed delighted to have a couple of interested people to talk with on a quiet morning. She walked us through the rooms, giving us a very personal look at the items and how the shop had come together. At the end of the visit I noticed a little pressed-glass dish on a table. She saw me look at it, then the £20 tag. "It's yours for five quid," she said with a grin. "Sold!" And off we went.
After an apartment fire about a year and a half ago, I went through the most hurried pack up-and-move out imaginable. The building was red-tagged, so powerless (nearly pitch black) as well as soggy (the glass atrium over the stairwell had shattered under the weight of the water that extinguished the roof's flames). And it was raining. Things were bound to go missing—some by my own foolishness, some by theft. It wasn't until yesterday that I went looking for the glass dish, realizing I'd not seen it since before the move. I'd unpacked thoroughly when we got here. No boxes were left. I'd wanted all vestiges of the move gone. My heart sank. But there was one place it still might be, so I grabbed the step stool and went into the top kitchen cupboard where I keep flower vases and an old Chinese tea set that belonged to my grandmother. And there it was, still wrapped in the news of September 25, 2010. Elation!
The dish is worth nothing and everything all at the same time. That affection so many of us feel for objects is genuine, and all the more real after disaster. The glass dish came out of fire once, and came out of it again—as did I. It's now sitting on our dining table filled with Easter eggs, those most cheerful harbingers of spring and renewal.